Run defense will determine Colts’ playoff fate

All of a sudden it’s business as usual for the Colts. Here we go again.

Just four weeks ago every game the Colts played was to get into the playoffs. They went out and did it, and in a sense, they’ve already played a full playoff schedule over the last month before the playoffs even begin.

The situation is exactly what we’re used to seeing with the Colts: They’re the No. 3 seed with a home game in the first round. Peyton Manning is hot entering the playoffs. Reggie Wayne is still tremendous. Questions still linger about their running game.

But in my mind the biggest concern for the Colts entering the playoffs is this: How will their run defense will hold up?

Go back to the season they won Super Bowl XLI. The Colts gave up 375 yards rushing in the season finale against Jacksonville, and everyone was wondering if the Colts even had a chance in the playoffs. But Bob Sanders returned, the run defense improved, and all seemed right with the world. During the next Super Bowl run, Sanders didn’t play a down. But Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea did a nice job at safety and took care of things.

This time around, we’re wondering about the exact same question for the Colts.

The Colts have gotten it done in recent weeks, especially against the Jaguars in the Week 16 game that settled the AFC South. But the Colts will get challenged but the Jets who are a ground and pound team. If the Colts survive they visit the Steelers, who want to feed the ball to Rashard Mendenhall.

All the way through, Larry Coyer’s defense will be questioned, and tested. If they pass the test, the Colts have as good a chance as anyone of challenging the Patriots in the AFC. If they don’t, it may be a short run in the playoffs.

Stopping the run has long been the Colts’ Achilles heel, and it will be something to watch for in the playoffs.

Follow me on Twitter @CFD22 and follow The NFL Network @nflnetwork.

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